PDA

View Full Version : Hort's Apocalypse



John Reece
03-08-2014, 11:49 AM
This is a non-debate, non-cabala, non-esoterica, and non-gematria (except as occurs in the text of Rv 13:18) thread.

I specifically request that Geert van den Bos not post in this thread or in any other thread that I may start.

I propose to confine myself to factual information; however, if anyone wishes to take exception to what I may present herein, please do so in a debate thread started for that purpose.

The purpose of this thread is to present excerpts from a commentary that has been out of print for 106 years.

From The Apocalypse of St John I-III: The Greek Text with Introduction, Commentary, and Additional Notes, by the Late F. J. A. Hort, D.D. D.C.L., LL.D. Sometime Hulsean Professor and Lady Margaret's Reader in Divinity in the University of Cambridge (London: Macmillan, 1908):


Grounds for asserting the Neronian date.

But two points seem decisive:

(1) The whole language about Rome and the empire, Babylon, and the Beast, fits the last days of Nero and the time immediately following, and does not fit the short local reign of terror under Domitian. Nero affected the imagination of the world as Domitian, as far as we know, never did. ....

(2) The book breathes the atmosphere of a time of wild commotion. To Jews and Christians such a time might seem to have in part begun from the breaking out of the Jewish war in the summer of 66. Two summers later Nero committed suicide, and then followed more than a year of confusion till the accession of Vespasian, and one long year more brings us to the Fall of Jerusalem. To the whole Roman world the year of confusion, if not the early months of Vespasian's reign, must have seemed wholly a time of weltering chaos. For nearly a century the empire had seemed to bestow on civilized mankind at least a settled peace, whatever else it might take away. The order of the empire was the strongest and stablest thing presented to the minds and imaginations of men. But now at last it had become suddenly broken up, and the earth seemed to reel beneath men's feet. Under Vespasian, however, the old stability seemed to return : it lasted on practically for a century more. Nothing at all corresponding to the tumultuous days after Nero is known in Domitian's reign, or the time which followed it. Domitian's proscriptions of Roman nobles, and Roman philosophers, and Roman Christians, were not connected with any general upheaval of society. It is only in the anarchy of the earlier time that we can recognize a state of things that will account for the tone of the Apocalypse.

It is therefore to no purpose that critic after critic protests that we have no evidence of the persecution of Christians beyond Rome. This is quite true, ― if we leave the Apocalypse out of sight, but it applies equally to the persecution of Domitian. The question really is (1) whether the Apocalypse is intelligible if there was no persecution of Christians except that local and apparently short persecution described by Tacitus; and (2) which of the two persecutions was most likely to call forth terrible echoes of itself in other lands. The absence of evidence doubtless comes from the absence of all Christian records for this period.

I do not wish to occupy time with commenting on the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan. But I am very thankful now to be able to refer to Lightfoot (Ign. 1. 7-17) as showing that it is wholly wrong either to treat Trajan as first introducing important persecution, or to suppose that previously the Christians were habitually confounded with the Jews by heathens, and therefore shared their immunities in the earlier period. Whether Christians were forbidden to exist, or condemned under more general laws, condemnation was assuredly always a danger which they had to fear : and there is no reason why this state of things should not date from the time of Nero.
....

To be continued...

John Reece
03-09-2014, 11:38 AM
I. The relations between the seven heads of the Beast
....................(xvii, 9 ff. ; cf. 7, 8 ; xiii 2)

Verse 9 leaves no doubt that in some sense John has Rome in view, the seven hills. Whatever the relationship of the heads, mountains, and kingdoms may be (not at all clear), it is certainly said that five kings are fallen, one is, the other is not yet come, and when he shall come, he must abide a little while. This is supposed to be a summary of imperial history. The five are Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero. A difference of opinion as to the present emperor, some urging Galba, the first of the three emperors of the anarchy ; others Vespasian, the first emperor after the anarchy. Whatever may be the truth of these interpretations, the positive objections commonly made to them are frivolous. To begin counting emperors from Augustus rather than Julius is the more correct reckoning of the two: and the treatment of the anarchy as a mere interval is fairly justified by such language as Suet. Vesp. 1, "Rebellione trium principum et caede incertum diu et quasi vagum imperium suscepit firmavitque tandem gens Flavia." When it is said of apparently the same Beast (xiii. 2) that one of his heads was as it were stricken to death, and that the death wound was healed, this is referred to the blow received by the empire by the anarchy on Nero's death, and its gradual recovery to order. So again much is written on the words in xvii. 8, how the Beast "was and is not," which is similarly interpreted.

To be continued...

Just Some Dude
03-09-2014, 02:15 PM
403

(Right, hope this isn't intrusive. I'll delete it if it is. Wish I could get it to show up better.)

John Reece
03-09-2014, 02:57 PM
403

(Right, hope this isn't intrusive. I'll delete it if it is. Wish I could get it to show up better.)

No problem. Your post is quite welcome here.

John Reece
03-10-2014, 09:54 AM
Continuation of excerpts from The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


II. The future of the returning Nero.

The words about the future seventh king, who is also apparently eighth, and also the seven (xvii. 10f) are referred either to an expected return of Nero or to Domitian as a new embodiment of the spirit of Nero. Certainly at the beginning of Vespasian's reign Domitian, who first represented him at Rome, bore a hateful character : "Omnem vim dominationis tam licenter exercuit ut jam tum qualis futurus esset ostenderet" (Suet. Dom. I). One suggestion that has been made by Weiss (St. u. Kr. 1869, pp. 49f) should be noticed. If Domitian in his youth, not yet emperor, was regarded as the future head of the beast, he would in a very true sense be a main subject of the Apocalypse, and the best coming representative of the hostile forces against which St John represented the Church as contending : and it is conceivable that if this were known and remembered, the association of his name with the book might by a possible confusion, after Domitian had come to be known as a persecutor, pass into a tradition that the book was written in his reign.

But the most striking feature of the time in connexion with this interpretation is the supposed connexion of this language of St John with popular belief in the return of Nero. This is the most telling element in Renan's melodramatic picture ; but he has to resort to large exaggerations. Still the facts are impressive enough. First, Nero had won a kind of popularity ; nay by the court which he had paid to the mob, by the exhibition of games, by his crimes, and his whole wild personality, he had deeply impressed the minds of many by a kind of demoniacal influence. "There were not wanting, says Suet. 57, "men to adorn his tomb with spring flowers and summer flowers for a long period," and his name was held in a strange kind of veneration. Presently rumors arose that he was not dead, but would soon return to take vengeance on his foes. Several pretenders to the name did actually appear at different times. Dio Chrysostom, who died about 117, says (Or. xxi. p. 271) that "even now all desire him to live : nay most men think he does, although in a sense he has died not once but many times along with those who supposed him to live." But, Weiss shows, the belief was not in resurrection, but simply in his being hidden away in the East, not really having died. The widely spread modern notion that there was a contemporary expectation of his mysteriously returning from the dead rests on a confusion between the ideas of different times. Nero, we must always remember, died young, not yet 32. If, therefore, the popular notion that he was not dead, but a fugitive in the East, had been true, there would have been nothing unreasonable for the next 40 or 50 years in looking for his return from the East ; and that period carries us down later than the latest conceivable date of the Apocalypse. It was not till the full three score years and ten or four score years had elapsed from his birth, that the expectation of his reappearance could put on that supernatural character which is implied when the language of the Apocalypse is accounted for in this way.

Both the earlier and the later representations find a place in the miscellaneous collections of poems of different ages called the Sibylline Oracles, as has been well shown by Zahn in his Apok. Stud. in Luthardt's Zeits. für k. Wissen. und k. Leben for 1886 ; but the two can clearly be distinguished, and it is apparently in one of the later portions that we first encounter the idea of a Nero who is practically Antichrist, as distinguished from the great wicked king, the matricide, fleeing beyond Euphrates, and coming back with uplifted sword and many hosts. In the Christian Apocryphon, Ascensio Esaiae iv. 2, Berial appears with characteristics borrowed from Nero : "there shall descend Berial, a mighty angel, king of this world,...under the appearance of a man, an impious king, the murderer of his own mother, even the king of this world"; but no personal appearance of Nero is intended. From these relatively late Sibylline Oracles the idea of a Nero-Antichrist (or forerunner of Antichrist) passed into some Latin writers of the West, as the poet Commodian, and probably the commentator Victorinus of Pettau, and thus gained a place with it long held in Latin tradition. But the late origin of this conception of Nero destroys its supposed value as fixing the date of the Apocalypse by means of that single passage of xvii ; while on the other hand all the language of the Apocalypse suggested by the Roman Empire has its full force only if it was written when the terrible spell of Nero's career was freshest in its power over the imagination of mankind.[emphasis added]

To be continued...

Darth Xena
03-10-2014, 10:28 AM
Great thread

John Reece
03-11-2014, 05:52 AM
Continuation of excerpts from The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


III. The number of the Beast (xiii. 18).

If this riddle could be certainly read, it might tell much. Two solutions only deserve mention, Lateinos (in Irenaeus), which might in a manner suit the Roman Empire at any time, but never well, and at all events is not distinctive. Of late years, however, much has been said on the Hebrew Neron Kesar. The absence of the Yod is nothing : there is excellent authority for that. There are, however, two strong difficulties : (1) despite the Hebraising of the book, it is strange that a book written in Greek to men who probably did not know a word of Hebrew should need Hebrew for the solution: and (2) whatever importance the image of Nero may have as the personal representative of the Roman Empire, it is not his own personal name that we should look for as given to the Beast. To identify the two is to confuse the parts.

When I first read that paragraph many years ago, I wrote in the margin: "But what if it were written [originally] in Aramaic?"

My question was prompted by the fact that I had read Torrey's [i]The Apocalypse of John.

To be continued...

John Reece
03-12-2014, 06:02 AM
Continuation of excerpts from The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


IV The measuring of the city (xi. 1 ff.)

It is often assumed that this refers to the anticipated fall of Jerusalem, either from the siege having actually begun or because events were so tending towards it that it could be clearly anticipated, more especially in the light of our Lord's own words (e.g. Lk. xxi. 24), probably founded on Zech. xii.3, LXX). That some sort of reference to the actual siege, known or anticipated, is here, is certain. But there are great difficulties in taking the whole passage as referring to definite external events. The distinction between the shrine and the outer court is better understood, as by Weiss and Gebhardt, of the outer shell of rejected Israel, and the true inner Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ, the only genuine representation of the old holy people (cf. i. 6). It is urged indeed by Düsterdieck that, whatever the precise interpretation, there is reference to the treading down as in the future, and this is true, and yet not quite conclusive. If a spiritual separating is intended, it is just conceivable that the prophet might use the material treading down which was already past, as a suggestive symbol for the future. This however is unlikely, and the example of Ezekiel does not help, because there the whole point lay in the future restoration of the temple. Here then, as in some of the other evidence, the earlier date is not absolutely enforced, but it alone is natural ; and so far this point of allusions to the temple might stand as well among the positive evidence as to date.

To be continued...

One Bad Pig
03-12-2014, 06:11 AM
This book, by the way, can be found online here (https://archive.org/details/cu31924029294992).

John Reece
03-12-2014, 06:30 AM
This book, by the way, can be found online here (https://archive.org/details/cu31924029294992).

:smile: How about that. Should I abandon this thread?

One Bad Pig
03-12-2014, 07:01 AM
:smile: How about that. Should I abandon this thread?
That's up to you. :smile: It wouldn't hurt to keep posting the bits you think are most interesting, or any commentary you may have on the commentary.

John Reece
03-12-2014, 07:17 AM
That's up to you. :smile: It wouldn't hurt to keep posting the bits you think are most interesting, or any commentary you may have on the commentary.

O.K. Thanks.

John Reece
03-13-2014, 05:40 AM
Continuation of excerpts from The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


Thus, to gather up the results of the whole, the evidence alleged by recent critics of the early date on the ground of sharp and absolutely decisive personal details seems too uncertain, in respect of John's meaning, to be relied on at present with full assurance. But on the other hand the general historical bearings of the book are those of the early, and not those of the late period. The force of Irenaeus's testimony cannot be denied : it is a real difficulty,* because on this matter his information was likely to be good. But it is on the other hand true that, supposing no tradition to have come down from the Apostolic age, and it to be known, as we see it was from independent places of Irenaeus, that St John had lived till Trajan's reign, it was very natural to put the banishment of i. 9 into the last preceding known persecution. Probably it was a mere guess, like the other guess, the Domitian himself banished him, and like the analogous guess that Nero, the other great persecutor, was the offender. On the Neronian traditions themselves little stress can be laid. What they do attest is the limited range of Irenaean tradition.

*But see Appendix on Bovon, Rev. de Théol. et Philos., July 1887 (p. 358 ff.).

John Reece
03-14-2014, 06:38 AM
This is my penultimate post of excerpts from the Introduction to The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


.... We know nothing of the Churches of Judea from Acts after Acts xi. except so far as they are connected with the work of St. Paul. ....

We are equally ignorant of what course St John took, and what was his local or ecclesiastical position when he was banished to Patmos. The authority with which he writes is not necessarily official authority : his personal position towards our Lord as one of the Twelve and one of the Three will account for everything. It is conceivable that at this time he had some definite government of the churches of Asia ; but there is no evidence for it, such as we might naturally have expected had this been his position. His voice throughout in not the voice of a ruler, but of a prophet.

John Reece
03-15-2014, 06:22 AM
From page xliii, this is my final excerpt from the Introduction to The Apocalypse of St John I-III (London: Macmillan, 1908), by F. J. A. Hort:


Although we are obliged to acquiesce in ignorance of much that we should greatly desire to know, it is quite possible to gain a clear view of the position of the Apocalypse in the Apostolic age and the Apostolic literature. Putting side St Paul's Epistles, three great Epistles from other hands seem to belong to different stages in the eight to ten years preceding the fall of Jerusalem, with shadows deepening as the climax approaches. These are James, I Peter, Hebrews, and then last of all, out of the very midst of that day of the Lord foretold by Christ Himself, we have this trumpet message to the seven churches of Asia. Thus, although the Apocalypse is not the last book of the N.T., it is the last book of that great period which ends with God's final judgment on His own holy city. St John's Gospel and the Epistles are spoken out of and into the midst of another world, the world which in a true sense is our own world or at least continuous with it. But a generation earlier, when the Apocalypse was written, St John already stood alone, the last of the great apostles: St James, St Peter, and St Paul had already perished by violent deaths: this book has thus a far more catastrophic and in that sense final character than it could have had in the closing years of the century.